International Photo-Haiku Contest

The 8th Setouchi Matsuyama International Photo-Haiku Contest Haiku in English on a set theme

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Contest Comments by David McMurray

Year by year, the Setouchi Matsuyama Photo-Haiku Contest in English attracts greater numbers of higher quality entries. In this 8th year of competition, a record-breaking 1,583 photo-haiku in the English language were submitted -- 327 with original photos of the sea and 1,256 with photos taken in various locations in Japan.
Poets around the world challenged composing haiku related to one of 12 photographs provided by the contest organizers. These photographs inspired the composition of many good haiku, but the winners were able to create wonderfully synergetic photo-haiku. Some artists creatively added unseen elements as well as sound, smell, touch, and taste sensations. Phrases and poetics were crafted to emphasize the focus and lines in the photos. From among 1,256 entries, a grand prix was selected, 2 awards for excellence were chosen, and 7 photo-haiku were honorably mentioned.

Grand Prix

IndiaVandana Parashar

morning yoga
the long stretch
of fresh-swept blue

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

The talented haikuist demonstrated a flair for interpreting leading lines in photography to create an energizing full-bodied flowing choreography. The yogini merits the grand prix for her innovative approach of matching a splendid movement to colorful background scenery. Her first line set the scene, while the second line slowly and literally stretched vowel sounds, before the adjective on the third line snapped smoothly to the end of the sequence. Readers divine that this expansive park -- albeit made of hard pavement and stone – can be an inviting place for a brisk walk, drive, tai chi, yoga, or even Banksy graffiti.

Maborikaigan promenade(Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Maborikaigan promenade(Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Award for Excellence

RussiaNikolay Grankin

little village
a river between the school
and the cemetery

A clear stream in Kurakake Village(Higashimatsuyama,Saitama Prefecture)

A clear stream in Kurakake Village(Higashimatsuyama,Saitama Prefecture)

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

The photo-haikuist presents us with a peaceful scene of a fulfilling life. Leading the viewer from the foreground down the river that runs through it added depth to the haiku moment. Concomitantly we were moved sideways along a lifelong continuum, from early education to death. More than 30 million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2018, so the skilled Russian poet could very well have visited this scene. A virtual visit using an online map also reveals that there is indeed an actual Karako elementary school and an old family temple with grave markers belonging to the Sotobu sect built near the edge of the river behind the cedar trees.

Award for Excellence

U.S.APatricia M. Campbell

dawn search
from the cave down to the lake
a child’s footprints

Reigando Cave(Kumamoto,Kumamoto Prefecture)

Reigando Cave(Kumamoto,Kumamoto Prefecture)

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

Depending on how you read between these 3 lines, the photo-haikuist leads you on a children’s adventure story or every parent’s nightmare. Quite likely this haiku represents an actual moment experienced by the haikuist. By creatively adding the unseen elements of footprints and a lake the reader can share its pathos. Cave rescue stories headlined news throughout 2018. Our ancestors lived and revered spirits in caves, and today these mysterious natural formations continue to thrill or scare us.

Honorable Mentions

  • Dawn (Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture)

    U.S.ANatalia L Rudychev

    reciting sutra
    red lotus
    among the reeds

  • Smile inside a sea urchin shell (Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture)

    PhilippinesBilly Antonio

    splashing waves
    the smile on the face
    of a street urchin

  • Nishi-Shinjuku high-rise building (Shinjuku, Tokyo)

    RomaniaCapota Daniela Lacramioara

    wall calendar--
    every day
    I travel in Japan

  • Reigando Cave (Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture)

    SwedenAnna Maris

    forest cave
    in the soft summer breeze
    a gate opens

  • Asuka-no-yu Bath House, Dogo Onsen (Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture)

    U.KLucy Whitehead

    swirls of steam
    from the hot springs
    bath house gossip

  • Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture)

    JapanYukako Miyatake

    First of all,
    don’t leave your iron spatula
    on the iron plate.

  • Folded cranes (Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture)

    GermanyMonica Wang

    thumbnail moons
    a small girl
    counts to thousands